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|Report on A Tort ou à Raison||Chrissie de Rivaz|
|Why Immortality||Bruce J. Klein|
|Updates on Fly Longevity Experiments 82 - 87||Douglas Skrecky|
|The Soul as Code||Robert Ettinger|
|As Others See Us||Phillip Miners and Doreen King|
|Less Costly Alternatives||Robert Ettinger|
|Inflation and Cryonics Arrangements||Taylor Selden|
|Look At it this Way||Stephen Mason|
|Musings on the Singularity||Francois|
Opinions are the authors' own. No professional advice is intended. If you wish others to be legally responsible for your health, life or finances, then please consult a professional regulated according to the laws of your country.
Volume 16 no 94. First published April 2003. ISSN 0964-5659.
Chrissie de Rivaz < Chrissie@deRivaz.com >
Firstly, my apologies for the delay in sending this report. I have asked several times for the names of the other panel members, largely to present correct spelling of their names. However, as one comes to expect of media folk, the information has not arrived. Nor have I seen the final version of the programme, so am unaware of any editing that took place. No, they didn't send the promised tape either!
An interesting programme which in total, lasted for 1hour and 45 minutes. It is largely a series of debates on various topics, interspersed with short pieces of film to illustrate the subject. Presented by Bernard Tapie, an ex-minister of the French Government and now a 'TV personality', it addresses any controversial subject which provokes reaction.
Interestingly, the first half of the programme was devoted to the problems with the equivalent of the French National Health service and the growing number of apparently untreatable new strains of virus and bacteria.
The second part of the programme was looking at aspects of science which impact on our lives. Cloning, IVF, Cryonics and Bionics were covered, with a variety of experts to head each section. The segment became dominated by an Italian doctor who had a great grievance about coverage of his work by the world press. (He's the one who worked on IVF with menopausal woman, allowing women of 60+ years to give birth) He could not attend personally and shouted from a studio about how he was a hero and all the French were idiots. The audience yelled back, as one might imagine! It became tedious after a while, as he waved around pictures of (different coloured) cats he claimed were clones and talked of many babies he knew to be cloned. He would not reveal names or locations of course, as this would infringe upon on their liberties. Hopefully, his dominance in the final version of the programme was edited. The debate that followed was led by a French doctor who is working on therapeutic cloning. Of more interest to most of us was his hope to be able to produce replacement organs and other body parts from an individual's own DNA.
Doctor Pierre Boutron was the specialist cryo-biologist who was speaking about his own work on IVF and the freezing of human embryos. We had a long discussion before the programme, to me more interesting than the final TV input! He was quite adamant that cryonics would never work for humans and expressed the wish that it could be successful. He even said that he would be prepared to take the gamble for himself, if he could afford it. He reiterated his words on air and was clearly never going to listen to anything anyone could say in defence. He is a respected scientist throughout the world and clearly, his words influenced the rest of the panel. They were all very polite, though very sceptical of any outcome. I did point out that they quoted much greater prices than anyone charges, especially when they suggested it was a waste of money. One of the panel suggested that the price was irrelevant if cryonics wouldn't work anyway! I disagreed and pointed out some of the now common procedures which were once considered impossible, not least the definition of clinical death. They seemed to like the fact that I admitted reanimation was impossible today but we were looking at future technology. It was comforting to see the now familiar snippet of film with Andy Zawacki at C.I., amidst the sceptics. Another piece of film was looking at the tiny creatures, tardigrades, which can be completely de-hydrated for many years and regain viable life when water it reintroduced. The concept was in support of regaining life after reanimation, of course but the other scientists claimed this was somewhat irrelevant compared to cryonics.
The final section of the programme dealt with the use of biologically controlled prosthetics now being developed. I felt it was another relevant item for all our futures as it was looking very much at brain impulses attempting to control movement of limbs in an involuntary manner. Again, a very high powered professor was the spokesman and an acknowledged world expert.
He admitted to a very limited success but said that early failures were actually leading to present success. He is optimistic that bionic technology is going to bring help to many people with disabilities on the future.
One interesting discussion I had (off camera) with Dr Boutron was concerning vitrification. Though he agreed that this was a much more likely success potential, he claimed that no perfusate fluids so far developed could possibly work. I did wonder if I'd misunderstood when he said no-one was yet using them. As I pointed out, Alcor are currently using vitrification and have been for some time. Maybe my French isn't as good as I thought, especially as he said he was in close contact with most of the cryo-biologists working on cryonics. He agreed that it was possible that Dr Pichugin may be on to something but I'm afraid his 'prejudice' was just too great for me to compete. A charming, clever man, nonetheless.
It was a good experience, even if I failed to convince anyone. There was some talk after the programme of a full length documentary, at some future point, based exclusively on cryonics and enabling us to give a stronger case without so much opposition. We shall see!
Paris still remains one of the most beautiful cities on the world and I was grateful for the opportunity to speak on behalf of cryonics.
by Bruce J. Klein < email@example.com >
This is an article I churned out for Simon Smith over at Betterhumans.com. Special thanks to Simon and the Betterhumans staff for their help. I hope you enjoy! - BJK
It's probably impossible to prove there's no life after death, but thanks to technological interventions immortalists aren't taking chances
[Sunday, February 02, 2003] "I'm a peripheral visionary. I can see into the future, just way off to the side." The audience erupts into laughter as funnyman Steven Wright walks across the stage, stops, looks up, and dryly delivers another off-the-wall remark. "I intend to live forever," he says. "So far, so good."
Again, laughter. Most people are cynical about the idea of living forever, and poke fun at those who aren't.
But a growing band of intellectuals, calling themselves immortalist, see physical immortality as no laughing matter. To them, the possibility of living forever -- without relying on supernatural beliefs or interventions -- is as real as the nose on your face.
This begs the question: Why physical immortality? Ask immortalists and you'll likely hear something like this: Nature need not be the final arbiter of life and death.
That's the short answer. The longer one's more nuanced.
History of immortalism
The Egyptians sucked the brains and innards out of dead kings and wrapped their bodies for burial under the pyramids, all in a quest for immortality; the hope for eternal life is nothing new.
The current breed of immortalists, however, trace their lineage to the earliest days of cryonics, the practice of freezing dead people in the hopes of reanimation at a later time.
The cryonics movement grew almost entirely out the work of one man, Robert Ettinger. Author of the The Prospect of Immortality, published in 1962, Ettinger is known as the father of cryonics.
Back in the 60s, Ettinger actively promoted the idea of physical immortality through his book and by appearing on television talk shows. "Organizations sprang up immediately," recalls Ettinger. He even started his own organization, the Cryonics Institute, in 1967.
Nearly four decades later, at the beginning of the 21st Century, the immortalist movement continues to grow. Hundreds have signed up for cryonics and dozens are now chilled near absolute zero at the Cryonics Institute and a newer facility called Alcor.
Buoyed by the promise of fledgling nanotech and biotech miracles, immortalists today can easily connect the dots between theory and application.
They also see promise in existing life extension efforts. "Never before have so many people lived for so long," says National Institute of Aging director Richard J. Hodes. "Life expectancy has nearly doubled over the last century, and today there are 35 million Americans age 65 and older."
Stop the bleeding
But with all this optimism about technology's potential, the question still remains: Why physical immortality?
Think for a minute about what you remember before birth. A little hazy, right? Perpetual darkness, nothingness and oblivion are good ways to describe the prenatal void. Well, this is exactly what immortalists expect after death. In the face of this, physical immortality is a rather attractive alternative.
And physical immortality doesn't just benefit individuals. "Each one of us carries within us a complex universe of knowledge, life experience, and human relationships," says nanotechnology researcher and author Robert A. Freitas. "Almost all of this rich treasury of information is forever lost to mankind when we die."
Freitas arbitrarily equates the amount of knowledge in one's life to that of one book. Considering the fact that each year around 52 million people die and the US Library of Congress holds more than 18 million books, we have a real crisis of knowledge loss. "Each year, we allow a destruction of knowledge equivalent to three Libraries of Congress," says Freitas.
Convinced yet? Well if that's not enough to get you reaching for a multi-vitamin, consider this: Without physical immortality, we will have problems overcoming short-term thinking and action.
"Concern with the manner of our departure is dwarfed by the growing certainty that nothing follows it," suggests David Nicholas, author of a little known libertarian article entitled "Immortality: Liberty's Final Frontier." "Without the prospect of continuity there is a truncation of perspective and short-termism dominates in a hot-house world."
Reason over faith
Despite such arguments, we may never provide a fully satisfying answer to the question, "Why physical immortality?" It's likely impossible to prove conclusively that death equals oblivion.
Nevertheless, immortalists persist, often attacking faith in a supernatural afterlife while promoting the value of physical immortality. "Denied the prospect of survival through supernatural agency secular Western man has become psychically traumatized," says Nicholas. "Increasingly life seems meaningless and absurd, and the fear of death and nothingness lie just below the surface of everyday consciousness."
"The age-old dreams of immortality may not have been wrong but they depended more on faith than fact," Nicholas continues. "Scientific progress has now begun to allow personal immortality at least to be brought within the bounds of practical speculation."
Some, most notably George W. Bush's leading bioethics advisor, Leon Kass, are trying to prevent this speculation from becoming manifested. Kass provides a perfect antagonist figure in the immortalist saga. As an exceptional writer and speaker, he manages to do twisted philosophical handstands in praise of morally justified death.
In his book Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity, Kass leaves little doubt about his convictions, writing, "After a while, no matter how healthy we are, no matter how respected and well placed we are socially, most of us cease to look upon the world with fresh eyes. Little surprises us, nothing shocks us, righteous indignation at injustice dies out."
Kass isn't the first to suggest this. On the face of it, living forever seems wholly unnatural, and death seems desirable. Immortalists call this type of reasoning "deathist" thinking. As science-fiction author Alan Harrington once said, we "die before we die" and "commit suicide on an installment plan."
But turning to religion isn't the answer. "We can only engineer our freedom from death not pray for it," says Harrington. And immortality need not be bland. "Having invented the gods we can turn into them," Harrington suggests.
Maybe immortalists can be faulted for being too early in a world that embraces death as a welcome release. But being too early is a problem that forward thinkers historically have had to deal with.
So will humanity look back in 100 years and call immortalists visionary or laughable? I'll see you in 2103 to find out.
Bruce J. Klein is a director of the Immortality Institute, a nonprofit, humanitarian, online membership-based organization.
Updates on Fly Longevity Experiments 82 - 86
by Douglas Skrecky
This is the 82nd update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 21.7 C during this run. Here I test some more beverages from the local Chinatown.
I used a rather old breeding bottle for this run, which probably had a lot of old and diseased flies in it. As a consequence no flies lived beyond 65 days, despite the rather low temperature. There was nothing of
interest in this small run, aside from the fact of poor overall survival.
Percent Survival on Day
|shen chu cha 1/8 tsp||100||75||38||31||19||12||12||12||6||6||6||6||0|
|shen chu cha ½ tsp||100||65||60||56||51||40||33||28||9||7||2||0||-|
|wuhuachu 1/8 tsp||100||70||65||48||17||4||4||0||-||-||-||-||-|
|wuhuacha ½ tsp||100||50||25||19||19||13||6||6||6||0||-||-||-|
This is the 83rd update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 20.5 C during this run. Here I continue testing beverages from the local Chinatown.
The maximum longevity of the control bottles was very good this time. At 88 days, this is only a little short of equaling the record 93 days for control maximum longevity, which was obtained in run #39. The low temperature for this run, plus the use of a relatively new breeding bottle may account the present good results.
At 106 days, the maximum longevity of flies fed full strength white gourd juice was also only a little short of the previous record of 118 days held by freeze concentrated Elderberry Nectar in run #36. This also compared well with other juices in the present run, with only star-fruit juice showing nearly comparable longevity.
|Percent Survival on Day|
|coconut J,roasted (Foco)||76||71||71||59||47||41||35||35||24||18||12||6||0||-||-|
|coconut J,(Sun &Dragon)||71||71||65||59||53||47||41||41||35||24||18||6||0||-||-|
|water chestnut drink||50||44||38||38||25||19||25||25||13||6||6||0||-||-||-|
|white gourd J 20%||75||58||46||46||29||25||13||8||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|white gourd J 40%||82||68||50||45||27||27||14||9||9||5||5||5||0||0||0|
|white gourd J 100%||81||81||76||71||67||57||52||38||33||24||29||14||10||10||0|
|winter melon tea||63||58||42||32||32||21||11||11||11||0||-||-||-||-||-|
This is the 84'th update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 20.6 C during this run. Here I retest grass jelly as well as other beverages.
The four brands of grass jelly all appeared to offer a modest benefit, when they were used full strength. The results for white gourd were a little disappointing this time, particularly after the juice had been freeze concentrated.
At 106 days, Hawthorn juice won the maximum longevity sweepstakes this time.
Percent Survival on Day
|grass jelly J (Green Power) 20%||30||18||9||6||6||6||0||-||-||-||-||-|
|grass jelly J (Green Power) 40%||33||21||8||8||4||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|grass jelly J (Green Power) 100%||38||38||29||29||25||13||4||0||-||-||-||-|
|grass jelly J (Six Fortune)||46||38||31||15||15||8||8||8||0||-||-||-|
|grass jelly J (Uni-president)||58||42||33||25||17||8||8||0||-||-||-||-|
|grass jelly (Yeo's)||47||47||47||33||27||27||0||-||-||-||-||-|
|white gourd J||31||31||31||23||23||15||15||0||-||-||-||-|
|white gourd (freeze concentrated)||24||18||12||12||6||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
This is the 85'th update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 20.3 C during this run. Since fly longevity is closely tied to temperature, I've decided to use this to tie in the longevity statistics in my own experiments, with those obtained by professionals that publish in peer reviewed science magazines.
My own experiments labour under several advantages. First, I use a random selection of flies from one breeding bottle to populate any given run. The average lifespan measured in my experiments is always going to be less than the real average lifespan of the flies I use, as some of them are already middle aged, at the start of a run. Second, professional experiments are usually conducted under "clean room" conditions, so that pathogens such as viruses exert little or no impact on fly longevity. My own experiments are compromised by pathogens, so again average longevity will be reduced. Third professional experiments use only one sex, and the use of mixed sexes will reduce average longevity in experiments such as mine.
Maximal longevity should be less sensitive to experiment conditions, but will tend to increase as more flies are used in an experiment. I use the Oregon R substrain of drosophila melanogaster, which is known to be genetically unstable, so longevity statistics will vary with different stocks. Overall I believe that the maximal longevity found in professional experiments using large numbers of flies, under carefully controlled temperatures, would serve as a useful benchmark for my own experiments. Mechanisms of Ageing and Development 5: 347-370 1976 will serve as my benchmark reference source. Here maximal lifespan of Oregon-R flies was 61 days at 27 C, and 128 days at 21 C. Using a linear extrapolation, maximal longevity (MAX) can be expressed as a function of temperature (T in centigrade) as follows: MAX = 61 days + (128 - 61)*(27 - T)/(27-21) = 363 - 11.2*T days For the present experiment with an average temperature of 20.3 C, this equation yields a reference maximal longevity of 136 days, which is comfortably in excess of the observed maximum of 84 days for this experiment. Control longevity at 57 days was very poor. Detailed results are listed below.
My previous results indicated that high dose nicotinamide can be very toxic. Recently it has been discovered that one of the mechanisms of nicotinamide toxicity is SIR2 depletion via nicotinamide competition with NAD. Here I check to see if NAD can ameliorate low dose nicotinamide toxicity, as well as check out NAD and niacin independantly. The present results suggest that both NAD and niacin (a precursor of NAD) may be beneficial for old flies. The addition of NAD to nicotinamide did increase longevity, but any conclusions regarding the the SIR2 mode of nicotinamide toxicity may be premature, since NAD by itself acted to increase longevity, and in any case the low dosages of nicotinamide used were themselves not toxic. In other results, both raw coconut juice, and the yellow dye material annatto appear to be helpful. Annatto toxicity is known to be mediated by riboflavin depletion, the possibility exists that an annatto/riboflavin combination might yield better results. This idea is being tested in run #90.
Percent Survival on Day
|annatto 1/16 tsp||60||60||60||60||50||30||20||0||-||-||-||-|
|annatto 1/4 tsp||69||63||63||63||56||44||31||25||25||19||6||0|
|coconut J, raw||64||60||56||48||44||40||36||24||12||8||8||0|
|NAD 0.6 mg||76||72||56||44||36||32||16||12||12||0||-||-|
|NAD 2.5 mg||84||72||64||52||48||36||20||8||8||0||-||-|
|niacin 25 mg||71||67||57||43||33||19||14||14||10||5||0||-|
|niacin 100 mg||89||83||78||67||56||33||22||22||11||11||6||0|
|nicotinamide 24 mg||58||58||58||50||38||17||4||4||0||-||-||-|
|nicotinamide 94 mg||72||72||72||61||61||28||11||6||0||-||-||-|
|nicotinamide 94 mg + NAD 2.5 mg||71||64||64||43||36||36||36||21||21||21||14||0|
This is the 86th update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 20.4 C during this run. Estimated maximal longevity using the formula (363 - T*11.2) is 135 days, which is well in excess of the 74 days actually found. I used an older breeding bottle with a lot of older flies in it this time, so overall survival was not very good. Deprenyl is not stable in solution so the negative results with this are not surprising. Otherwise nothing of interest to report.
Percent Survival on Day
|deprenyl 1 mg||100||71||62||48||33||14||10||5||5||5||5||5||0||-|
|deprenyl 4 mg||97||87||73||63||63||37||17||17||10||3||3||0||-||-|
|DMAE bitartrate 50 mg||97||70||41||30||16||5||5||3||3||0||-||-||-||-|
|DMAE bitartrate 150 mg||100||74||63||44||26||19||7||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|uncaria tomentosa 5 mg||96||81||54||27||23||15||8||4||4||0||-||-||-||-|
|uncaria tomentosa 20 mg||100||86||48||41||24||24||17||10||7||3||3||0||-||-|
This is the 87th update of my fly longevity experiments. Average temperature was 20.0 C during this run. Estimated maximal longevity using the formula (363 - T*11.2) is 139 days.
A maximum longevity of 124 days, with 1/2 tsp pomegranate in the current run, happens to be an all-time record for my series of experiments. The previous record of 118 days was set by freeze concentrated Knudsen elderberry nectar back in run #36. The highest ever "control" longevity was 93 days in run #39. For comparison purposes the maximum control longevities for the past 7 runs were: 74 days (run #86), 57 days (#85), 72 days (#84), 88 days (#83), 55 days (#82), 65 days (#81), and 66 days (#80).
I presume there was an element of luck in the superlative pomegranate results, but at the same time, consider it very unlikely that this was due solely to chance. I believe that viral infections kill most of my flies, with only a few expiring of advanced motor neuron disease, which universally afflicts aged drosophila flies. For example the 124 day old fly was not only no longer capable of flight, but also hardly able to even walk. This fly looked like it was at death's door, and a check just 3 days later showed that the animal had at last expired, after its prolonged battle with the grim reaper.
Follow-up experiments will be reported on, in due course. For now, I'll just mention the 1/2 tsp pomegranate dose was added to 20 mg of fly food, which is about 80 calories. Scaling this up to 2000 calories/day, yields a comparable human dosage of about 4 tablespoons per day. Pomegranate is regarded as safe for human consumption, retards atherosclerosis in rodents, and lowers blood pressure in humans.
Percent Survival on Day
|charcoal 260 mg||8||0||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|(active) 1040 mg||44||33||22||22||22||22||11||11||0||-||-||-||-||-|
|artichoke 405 mg||38||38||13||13||13||13||0||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|(leaves) 1620 mg||25||25||13||13||0||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|pomegranate 1/8 tsp||40||40||0||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|(paste) ½ tsp||80||80||80||80||60||60||60||60||50||40||40||20||10||0|
|soy sauce 1/8 tsp||13||7||7||7||7||0||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|(lite) ½ tsp||42||25||17||8||8||8||8||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|strawberry 1/8 tsp||43||21||14||14||14||0||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|(extract) ½ tsp||71||71||64||50||36||21||14||14||7||0||-||-||-||-|
The Soul as Code
by Robert Ettinger < firstname.lastname@example.org >
A form of Platonism, shared by a number of philosophers and scientists, is to feel that the mind is nonphysical. This is essentially the uploading thesis, that information and information processing constitute everything of importance, or in other words that isomorphism is everything.
However this leaves serious problems, which in fact seem to me to be fatal to the thesis.
For one thing, as I have repeatedly pointed out, if you accept isomorphism for matter and for space, why not also for time? But this leads to what I have called the "Turing Tome," an enormous book in which each page describes the quantum state of the universe at a particular moment of time. The book as a whole represents, and therefore "is" the universe (or an emulation) including its evolution over time--or whatever subset of the universal history the simulation or emulation may contain.
Another aspect of the problem is that it becomes difficult or impossible to distinguish existence from potential existence. Pi exists whether it is written down in mathematical symbols or not, and in the same sense we supposedly exist whether we are instantiated or not. You are therefore already immortal, always have been and always will be - in fact, every version of you and your history or possible histories.
Yet again, the essential problem of survival is not what seems plausible but what can be proven from unimpeachable premises. So far there is no agreed answer, nor any fully satisfactory answer as far as I know. We place our bets and take our chances.
As Others See us
Phillip Miners and Doreen King
New Hope International Review - http ://www.nhi.clara.net/online.htm
NHI Review, 20 Werneth Avenue, Gee Cross, Hyde, Cheshire SK14 5NL
(If you think I am daft publishing this, then my reason is that it is important that we all see how other see us. What is worrying is when people with these thinking patterns are in a position of power.)
Longevity Report #92
It would be easy for me, as a professional scientist, to pour scorn upon Longevity Report 92, the newsletter of Longevity Books. It deals predominantly with the topic of cryonics, the freezing of the dead for later resurrection at some time in the medically advanced future. However history shows that the easy targets at the peripheries of science can very quickly become the accepted mainstream and they deserve an objective approach. The problem is that as hard as I try to remain open-minded, Longevity Report 92 makes that very difficult indeed.
The first article, written by Robert Ettinger, is though interesting. Some Thoughts About Atheism highlights in a few short paragraphs some subtleties which are often overlooked by leading commentators. Unfortunately though, it is downhill from page 2.
In James Swayse's contribution Getting Spouses to Sign up he seems to claim that the spouse should sign up to being frozen out of love for their partner and that should be the end of the matter. I had to re-read this to be certain that this was not meant to be a humorous article. Here, and throughout this publication, ethics are noticeable only by their absence.
In A Note on Probabilities and Cryonics Michael Hartl attempts to apply probability theory to a complex ethical dilemma. Whilst his explanation of probabilities is entirely correct and clearly explained, it is dangerous to use them in this way. It attempts to give some credibility to his conclusion -- signing up to cryonics is desirable -- without the slightest attention to the moral issues. This is not logic, it is sophistry.
The trend continues in Steve Harris' feature that responds to an article in the Miami Herald. He takes the commendable approach of selecting individual excerpts and responding with comments to each in turn. His arguments however are so defensive as to obscure any real discussion of the issues. He uses capitalisation in a vain attempt to make his argument more forceful but could have spent his time more wisely using a spellchecker and correcting a number of typographical errors.
Elsewhere Douglas Skrecky provides an update on his fly longevity experiments that examine how environmental factors affect the life expectancy of fruit flies. To the new reader these four pages of tables and text are just information saturation. Whilst I have a suspicion that the results may actually be very interesting, they are lost in an inability to communicate the science.
This newsletter may well be of interest to the supporters of cryonics and related topics, but it is self-serving and does little to develop a wider, and necessary, debate.
reviewer: Phillip Miners.
This is an A4, 20 page newsletter which is largely about cryonics. It contains articles with titles such as Freeze Drying Revisited and Updates on Fly Longevity Experiments 73-81. It is opinionated and reports on very unscientific experiments. However, cryonics is a fascinating subject. Problems at the cellular level of preservation have come a long way in the last thirty years. Sperm and eggs can easily be stored in banks. This newsletter does touch on the taboo subject of death and the need to face up to it. It also touches on ethical problems surrounding cloning and related issues. The newsletter is well-edited but there is no editorial. It seems to be aimed at those wishing to have their bodies preserved at low temperature after death. I would like to see more focus on longevity in terms of staying healthy. For instance, I wonder how many of the readers of this newsletter are smokers, or are overweight?
It is tightly focussed and directed at people who are considering having their bodies preserved after death. However, if it developed a broader coverage it could help people to stay healthy.
reviewer: Doreen King.
It is fair to say that the review of no 92 is is a brave review, but phrases like ethics are noticeable only by their absence suggest that it is not as objective as it says. I suppose this issue was open to this sort of criticism on the basis that authors did discuss ethical issues, but ethics are all things to all men - no doubt slave traders considered their trade to be ethical and drew comfort from rules of conduct.
Cryonics relies on the future to show whether it was justified or not. If it doesn't work, then none of us will know.
If it does work, then anyone who was dissuaded by commentaries such as those of Mr Miners, will have been annihilated as a result of his particular set of ethical standards.
Those like him could therefore be considered brave because if cryonics works their words will have cost people their lives, and they will be posthumously regaled as villains. On the other hand, those that educate and inform about cryonics have nothing to lose. If it works they are heroes, if it does not they and those they have persuaded will be unaware that history regards them as failures.
There is no risk that such people would work to close down cryonics unless they are insane - such action would be pointless. If cryonics can happen it will happen, even if those that are frozen now are all sent to a crematorium. As technology progresses to a point where reanimation is seen as being more credible new cryonics organisations would appear. In such a scenario, the fact that frozen people were destroyed will still be a matter of historical record, and those that destroyed them will be recorded alongside the other mass murderers of history.
Less Costly Alternatives
by Robert Ettinger < Ettinger@aol.com >
They intimate that cryonics organizations may be uninterested in these partly because there isn't any profit in it. This really isn't accurate. All of the active cryonics organizations, except Suspended Animation Inc., are non-profit. We are interested only in the benefit of our patients and future patients - which includes growing our numbers.
However, opinions naturally differ on the best ways to maximize the chances of our patients. One of the considerations is our general credibility, which depends in part on the evidence we can adduce, which is greater for better methods of cryostasis and much weaker for such things as plastination. Another consideration is "paternalistic" - if we offer cheaper but less hopeful methods, some members will be tempted to reduce their chances by buying the cheaper methods, even if they can afford more expensive ones. Another consideration is the "complacency" effect, meaning reduced incentive for progress if current methods are seen as "good enough."
Alcor's stance has always leaned toward offering what they have sometimes euphemistically called "state of the art" cryopreservation--meaning the best they were currently able to offer. Suspended Animation Inc. offers what they believe to be the best available anywhere. Cryonics Institute has tried to strike a reasonable balance between cost and effectiveness, with the emphasis on demonstrated effectiveness, and our current research, if its apparent promise is fulfilled, seems likely to provide the best ever in results, with perhaps no increase in cost.
CI also wants to offer its members the widest possible set of options. This means, first, that we are willing to provide storage only, if the member wants someone else to do the initial preparation. It also means we want to explore the cheaper options in a systematic way, and eventually offer those also, but that is a lower priority and not yet on the active list.
by Taylor Selden < email@example.com >
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Taylor, I'm 23 and live in Arizona. I just sent off my insurance papers to Alcor today and have finished all my membership requirements. So, when Alcor publishes their next membership figures, you'll see it go up by at least 1.
Now that I'm done with the pleasantries, I'd like to open a serious discussion on what I believe to be a fundamental flaw with Alcor's pricing. Although this isn't so much of an issue for older people, I'd like to just throw out a reality check for any of the young people on CryoNet:
Life Insurance Won't Pay For Cryo-Transport
When one factors inflation into the equation, Cryo-Transport prices must go up, therefore seriously negating the value of life insurance policies purchased today.
In the United States, inflation has averaged 3.49% annually since 1913. Assuming that continues over the long term, someone (like myself) who can expect to die 60 years after the purchase of life insurance will face a significant problem. The cost of cryo-transport will have inevitably gone way up. In fact, whole-body suspension (what I chose) should cost about $940,000 in 2063, assuming the cost of suspension rises symmetrically with inflation.
I discussed this problem with Jennifer Chapman, the membership coordinator at Alcor. She explained to me that the increased membership costs will be borne by future Alcor members and that current members will "lock in" their rate by signing-up today. I can't help but disagree with what she told me -- my better sense kicking in.
Any scheme that promises the same benefits to everyone, yet must cover the costs of early members with the funds of later members will inevitably fall apart. In the United States we call this a Ponzi Scheme, named after Charles Ponzi who promoted just such a scheme in the 1920s.
In my opinion, Alcor should take the lead in this area and start being honest with younger members. Instead of simply recommending an outright purchase of life insurance, a recommendation should be made for the purchase of term life and the proper investment of additional funds. Members should be told that costs will go up and that they need to plan for future cost increases today.
I, personally, am putting away $50 per month in low-cost passively managed index funds that I fully expect to earn at least 4% after inflation. Assuming I continue until my death at age 83, I'll have about $150,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars saved up -- enough to pay the future cost of Alcor suspension.
One option would be for Alcor to simply collect this fee from members and invest the money itself on the behalf of members -- protecting members from making investment mistakes and choosing overly aggressive/high cost funds for the money they'll need to pay for cryo-transport.
What they shouldn't do is tell young members that future cost increases will be borne by future members -- this certainly doesn't inspire confidence in an organization that is expects to be around for hundreds (if not thousands) of years.
I know some of you are going to ask... Why pick Alcor if you have all these problems with how they manage their financial operations? That's a good question and one that deserves an answer, since I'm being so critical of Alcor. There simply is no better alternative out there...
Anyone who believes a for-profit organization will revive them in the future is simply off their rocker. Anyone who thinks a low-cost provider will have the necessary capital to not only preserve their bodies for the long term, but also pay for the future revival is also making a dangerous gamble. So, while I do believe Alcor needs some changes, I also believe it is the best option for today. Who knows 40 years from now... Some other organization might emerge and surpass Alcor. Since we don't pay for cryonics until we die, we all have the ability and the responsibility to be vigilant and closely monitor the cryonics organizations. We can always change our minds and change to one that we believe will be better for the long-term in the future.
In any case, I hope to get to know everyone better over the next few months and I'm happy to be a new member to both Alcor and CryoNet.
Look At it this Way
By Dr Stephen Mason < DrSBMason@aol.com>
We make some of our greatest gains
When we see old things
In new ways
SCARED A DYIN?
There's a line from that classic tune "Old Man River" that goes: …tired a'livin but scared a'dyin. Interestingly enough, that probably sums up the feelings of a significant share of the population. As the average age goes up, an ever-greater number of people are finding that their lives have become decreasingly joyful and increasingly fearful. The aging process, during which our minds and our bodies deteriorate to mere shadows of our former youthful vigor, should prepare us for death. But it doesn't. People still fight for life, however unsatisfactory, just as the condemned criminal fights to file yet another appeal. And there's a kind of parallel there since, if you think about it, aren't we all really on Death Row?
Religion is a dead end - literally. The notion that one dies and things get better is so patently absurd that virtually no one with all his screws tight takes it seriously. Oh they may pretend to believe in a better place in the sky but for most, when the chips are down, no treatment is too costly and no procedure is too painful not to try to keep them from their final reward. And think about it, if they really took all that streets of gold business as fact, why would they so resist putting themselves in harm's way? If I honestly thought I had a ticket to Paradise in my pocket, I'd be working on being outa here!
So in the end, people invariably turn to science and technology: Forget what I said about a heavenly father and stem cell research…what can you do to keep me alive right now? And that brings me to my topic - what can be done?
Let's begin by dispelling the myth regarding an ever-increasing life span. If, a century ago, people lived only until 40 and now they regularly last into their 70's progress is being made right? Wrong. What has happened is that more babies are being kept alive. Think about it statistically. If one half of the newly born infants didn't survive their first year but then the other half lived on to reach the age of 80, the mean age would be 40. This is not far from the facts of a century ago. Indeed, the typical adult who reached maturity may actually have lived longer back then as a result of having gone through what amounted to a weeding out process. Most of the Founding Fathers lived long lives and Michelangelo almost made it to 90. In fact, the Bible mentions three score and ten (70 years of life) as an average…and that was two millenium ago. Very simply, the longer you live the longer you can expect to live. A 25-year-old male, for example, had a 72-year life expectancy at birth while men who have already made it to 65 can look forward to seeing their 81st birthday.
Of course it would be silly to deny that advances have been made. Most of these, however, turn out to be decidedly low tech and passe science. Things like central heating, pasteurized milk, clean water, closed sewers and adequate nutrition account for most "modern" gains in the battle against death. Getting the jump on just a handful of previously deadly diseases (measles, pneumonia, diphtheria, whooping cough and tuberculosis) made a big difference too. But even at that, Americans spend the most on health care yet rank only 24th in life expectance compared to other industrialize nations. People in Australia, France and Sweden live 73 years to our 70 and in Japan they typically make it all the way to 74 and a half. Too much weight and too little exercise may explain this discrepancy but even if all diseases were eliminated…it would add only about ten years to the average life span.
The fact is, we die as a result of the aging process. Exactly how this process took us from healthy adults to senile seniors was something that might only be guessed at 50 years ago. One of the theories, the Hayflick Limit, said our cells contained a kind of counter. They reproduced just so many times and then stopped. An inevitable downhill slide followed. Today, it looks like Hayflick was on the money. The actual mechanism may be compared to a shoelace. Each cellular division wears a bit off the plastic end until, when that magical three score and ten is reached, all the plastic is gone and the lace itself begins to unravel. The details of just how this happens (and how it might be prevented from happening) are covered at great length in many other places so I won't bore you with all the complicated chemical interactions…even though your life depends on them. Instead, I'd like to explore the man-in-the-street's reaction to his possible immortality.
The man in the street hasn't a clue. The notion that death might have a cure is not part of his thinking. Old habits are hard to break. He pays his taxes and he expects to die. Indeed, some philosophers have suggested that life is of value only because of the alternative. Personally, I'm more of the object in motion tends to want to stay in motion school of thought. This made it especially difficult for me to comprehend a caller to one of those late night talk radio shows where I happened to be the guest. The discussion had gotten around to cryogenics and the possibility of freezing and then eventually thawing out the current crop of terminally ill. Starting with a "Yea but" the man on the phone said, "if George Washington could have been frozen and brought back today…what would he do for a living? Being a General would be out - he would know nothing of nuclear weapons - and he couldn't even fall back on his surveying experience because all surveyors today have to belong to a union." So here I was offering everlasting life and here was this cretin concerned with union affiliations. But he was the rule and I was the exception. Just ask around and you'll see what I mean. With the possible exception of Ponce de Leon, most men (including those in policymaking positions) simply can't conceive of a Fountain of Youth. And yet, what fools these mortals be, when immortality is just around the proverbial corner.
And it is. A crash program similar to the one that put a man on the moon in a decade can, I firmly believe, cure death. But without the will, there is no way. Physically we are very, very close. Emotionally there are still many miles to go before we agree to avert the sleep of death. And even you probably doubt my word. How can Mankind possibly beat the Grim Reaper? Well, genetic engineering is one promising avenue. Now that we know our cells have a reproductive limit, simply change that limit. We know the mechanism of the malfunction and we have the tools to fix it. Neither of these, the cause nor the possible cure was ever know before in the thousands of years of Human history since exiting the cave. Identifying the nature of the beast is in itself an incredible leap forward.
And there's one final thing to consider, the way two or more people will so often discover the same thing at the same time. This makes it difficult for future generations to give credit where it's due. Who figured it out first exactly? The reason I bring this up is because there are actually several approaches to immortality (or at least a greatly extended life span) that are close to fruition. Along with the most promising, genetic engineering, there's nano technology which is supposed to have a greater impact on our world than computers by 2015. You can easily see how being able to manipulate individual cells is going to have an extraordinary effect on the nature of living things. And too, with those computers doubling in power and halving in price every couple of years, the day when you'll be able to download your brain can't be far away. As luck would have it, the breakthroughs may well come together with researchers at this lab getting cells to make perfect copies forever and researchers at that lab skipping biology altogether and moving directly into human minds mirrored in machines.
LOOK AT IT THIS WAY
There will be lots of questions to answer. Will life lose its meaning in the absence of death? There will be lots of problems to solve. What will we do on an already crowded planet if people keep getting on but stop getting off? But the bottom line: Hey Buddy…yours may well be the last generation to die. Think about that.
Dr. Stephen Mason is a psychologist living in Southern California. He is a former university professor, syndicated columnist, talk radio show host and comedy writer for Joan Rivers. He is a member of MENSA, a recipient of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal's Citizen Sane award, and once appeared as a centerfold in Playgirl magazine. Currently, he serves as Media Affairs Director of The Lifestyles Organization. Address comments and column suggestions to him directly at DrSBMason@aol.com.
by Francois < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Sometime in the not too distant future, humans should create true artificial intelligence. Being based on machines instead of flesh and blood, that intelligence will have the potential to quickly expand to an almost limitless degree of speed and creativity. In order to survive, it is very possible that humans themselves will transfer their own minds into this new realm, creating hybrid entities that will bring together the best of both world. I have no doubt that new kinds of problems will also emerge from this new mode of existence, but its very nature precludes us from ever coming up with meaningful speculations about it, except in the most general terms.
This process has been called The Singularity, and it will result in a "humanity" that will, for all intents and purposes, have all the attributes of the Divinity. The question that comes to mind is, why has it not happened already? I mean, we live in a big universe, a universe that contains plenty of stars, planets and, presumably, life-forms. If we limit ourselves to what we know for a fact, then we should focus our attention on stars like the Sun. We know that such stars can have planets on which intelligent life evolves because here we are. In our Galaxy, there are millions of such stars. Their ages currently range from a few million years to about 8 billion years. Younger stars have not yet stabilized and older stars were formed at a time when not enough elements heavier than helium were available.
Again, if we limit ourselves to what is known, we can ignore any star younger than the Sun. Intelligence would not have had time to evolve on any of their planets. The older stars however are a completely different matter. Lifeforms on their planets would have had a big evolutionary headstart on us, a headstart measured in millions and even billions of years. We seem to be very close to reaching the Singularity, so why do we not observe the results of such an event happening a long time ago on at least one of those other stars?
This is far from a trivial question. As I said, once a civilization successfully goes through a Singularity, it acquires Godlike powers and attributes. Some have postulated that such a civilization enters a mode of existence that makes it effectively invisible to us. It is simply too different from us to be recognized as a civilization. I disagree with this. Whatever ultimate form they settle into, they will still be sentient living creatures and, as such, will perform the three following functions. They will process information, they will process energy and they will replicate. We can recognize all three in whatever form they occur. Furthermore, their advanced technology will permit them to completely process their native solar system into an habitat better suited to their needs. Their increasing numbers will then require them to seek new places to live. Neighbouring star system will therefore be processed in the same way, and then they will expand outward at near the speed of light, completely converting their own Galaxy, then neighbouring Galaxies, and ultimately the entire Universe into habitats and artifacts. That is the mind-boggling but inescapable end product of the Singularity.
Now, obviously, our Galaxy has not been so colonized. The stars and other objects we observe in it are completely natural and unprocessed entities. This means that nobody has reached the Singularity stage anywhere within our Galaxy. Astronomical observations allow us to reach the same conclusion for a volume of space billions of light years in radius. There are billions of galaxies in that volume, and in all that immense territory nobody has managed to reach the Singularity stage. This is a very puzzling observation since that vast volume contains many suitable worlds with a considerable headstarts on us. What happened?
One possibility is that no civilization can successfully go through a Singularity event. All, without exception, are destroyed by it. This is a rather pessimistic view and it does not bode well for our own chances. Another possibility is that life is a very unlikely event that happened only here on Earth. But what we know about life suggests that it appears easily and quickly wherever conditions are suitable. Intelligent life could be different though. Its existence depends of evolutionary processes that may not have a strong tendency to achieve it. After all, Earth harbored life for billions of year before a sentient creature appeared on it. Still, I consider it unlikely that the evolution of sentience would be that difficult to achieve. Or maybe, the Singularity did occur, a long time ago, and the Universe has indeed been processed by the resulting Godlike intelligences. In that case, why do we still observe a wild universe? It could be because we live in a computer emulation of such a universe, set up for our own benefit by these more or less benevolent Entities, something they would have done with all the planet harboring lifeforms that they would have encountered. That's an interesting concept in and of itself.
I'm sure there are many other possibilities and I will not try to make an exhaustive list here. My aim in writing this was mainly to show that our imaginations are often deficient when it comes to charting the future. Cryonic people unconciously expect to wake up in a world not too different from our own, something that looks like the StarTrek universe maybe. But the world they do wake up into will in all probabilty be very different from that simple expectation. Musings like these are needed to open up our minds to the possibilities and to prepare us to the shock they will inevitably endure.
This came from Cryonet, http://www.cryonet.org. There has been considerable discussion about these points - those with access to the Internet are recommended to go and take a look.
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